Neil McCarthy

Jungle of the Bourgeois Pig

for Denisa Pisçu

Your father talked me down from a high window ledge
the morning he lit a cigarette in the kitchen, poured
me cold coffee, and told me of how alien it felt to have
had the freedom to lie in the grass in a park in Vienna.
This choice of action is something I’d never thought of,
like so many things I have taken for granted to date.
I furrowed my brow and jiggled memories in my head
looking for a comparison to believe in when I heard
you recite to your court at Café Kafka the feeling you
had, and the watchful eyes upon you, the first time
you tasted a banana. Those of us in attendance smiled
as we looked for the comedy in such an odd situation,
conned by every thin comparison that sprung to mind.

We are watered down by choices, caught pants around
our ankles at a crossroads with no signs, everyday staring
inanely at giant menu boards and convincing ourselves
that an iced lemon mocha with whipped cream and vanilla
is just what the doctor ordered.  We have no use for effort
like we have no use for maps, our geography beamed from
satellites to the palms of our hands to whatever jungle we
choose. And I am blown away by distance, sitting listening
to a man from Moldavia recant for me his translations of
Eminescu in a bar in Los Angeles, the clientele shrill as an
orchestra tuning up; his index finger pendulating gracefully,
assertively, as if a flouted conductor’s baton.

Neil McCarthy is an Irish poet currently living in financial exile in Los Angeles where he teaches English and complains about the heat.  In recent years his poems have appeared online and in print in journals such as Magma (UK), Poetry Salzburg Review (Austria), Popshot (UK) and The SHOp (Ireland).